Barrow Hill Vets – 21st February 2013

Today was my penultimate day at Barrow Hill Vets and I was now used to the routine of the surgery. Once again I got a chance to dress in scrubs and go into theatre. I watched a cat spay. This differs to bitch spays because a flank incision is made rather than one on the front of the abdomen. The cat was about six months old which is the normal, and best time, for having a spay done. The cat spay was a lot quicker and seemed much simpler than the bitch spays I had previously seen and this is because of the smaller abdomen, meaning that the uterus can be found more easily.

At the same time that I was watching this, a boxer was also being spayed. As expected, this operation took longer, but everything went smoothly.

After the surgery in the theatre took place, a miniature schnauzer was prepared for a dental. He had seven teeth pulled out but I was told that animals cope well with missing teeth and the schnauzer would have no trouble eating, despite the lack of teeth. The remaining teeth were also cleaned and his beard was brushed back to its full bushiness.

Another boxer was also in the kennels to today, but his older dog was a lot bigger than the young bitch who had been spayed. This dog was being examined for a possible tail amputation. It continually wagged its tail violently which meant that it had wounded itself from constant hitting. The wound would not heal despite the bandaging because the scars would be ripped back open again as soon as the dog’s tail was allowed to wag freely. This is a common problem with dogs and although the decision was made to give the tail one more chance and not amputate it today, I know a chocolate labrador who no longer has her tail and whilst at Kingsnorth surgery, I observed a tail amputation.

Often, animals are brought into consults after emergencies and have to be admitted into the kennels immediately. In the late morning, a cat was brought out from a consult with a large cut on its leg which needed stitching. The skin on this part of the body was very thin so it was a difficult procedure. The bruised skin had to be cut away so that the skin would heal, worsening the difficulties. Before stitching it was necessary to debride the edges of the skin, but today it was done with scissors rather than the scalpel I saw being used earlier in the week. This is because the skin was too delicate and the scalpel would have taken off too much. After lots of cleaning, the wound was stitched into a Y shape. It required internal and external stitches as well as glue to ensure it would heal as quickly and cleanly as possible. Finally, the leg was bandaged so the stitched could not pulled out early, and the cat was left to wake up from the anaesthetic.

During the day, everyone was driven crazy by a golden retriever in the kennels who barked continuously, despite the towel thrown over its kennel. This dog was a guide dog in training. At 18 months old he was living at home before the strict training regime begun at about 2 years. He had been brought in to have his foot examined because he was limping and in pain. After being sedated, he was x-rayed and the examination went underway. The vet told me how she enjoyed these procedures because you never knew what you might find as you prodded and poked. The x-ray showed no breaks or fractures and the vet could not find any thorns or breaks in the skin. However, she did notice that the painful foot had slight swelling and bruising when compared to the other foot. The fact that most body parts come in pairs is very useful for a vet for it means that comparisons can always be made. Eventually it was concluded that it probably a sprained ligament at the base of the pad. The dog would have to rest for a while and it was decided that it was not worth putting on a bandage as it would not stay on for long on such an energetic dog.

I saw this problem of bandages and lively dogs when the cocker spaniel I saw with the broken foot on Monday was brought in for a rebandage after pulling off the original. The spaniel had to be sedated and then had an x-ray just to check that the foot was still aligned correctly, after this a new bandage was put. The type of bandage was called a ‘Robert Jones’, which is a bulky compression dressing using multiple layers of bandage, wrapped tightly around the dog’s leg, ensuring that the bones are held firmly in place to promote the optimum healing conditions.

Today was an interesting day with a mixture of expected and unexpected procedures. Tomorrow is my last day and I will miss being in the surgery but hopefully I will have a positive end to my enjoyable week with Barrow Hill.

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